Coming to New Dominion Bookshop:
Lisa Tracy will present selections from her memoir
on Saturday, June 5 at 12:00 Noon
After their mother’s death, Lisa Tracy and her sister Jeanne faced several households’ worth of furniture and memorabilia—much of it accumulated during their family’s many decades of military service in far-flung outposts from the American frontier to the World War Two-era South Pacific—and decided to take it to auction. The resulting memoir, Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family’s Past, One Chair, Pistol, and Pickle Fork at a Time, is a captivating personal narrative that captures why Americans are so obsessed with our things—and why we find it so difficult to let go.
What begins as an exercise in information-gathering designed to boost the estate’s resale value at auction evolves into a quest that leads from Tracy’s New Jersey home to the Philippines and ultimately back to the town where she grew up. These travels open her eyes to a rich family history characterized by duty, hardship, honor, and devotion—qualities embodied in the very items she intended to sell. Each is catalogued here with all the affection and intimacy that only a family member could bring to the endeavor.
A paean to the pack rat in us all, Objects of Our Affection provides a captivating look at the emotional resonance of objects—and the fascinating stories that make us hold them close.
“Lisa Tracy’s Objects of Our Affection is a marvelous mix of tenacity and tenderness. Yes, it is about the history of certain carefully collected heirlooms; but it is also about something much greater … the soul of a family, any family, our expectations and regrets, our loves and losses, our search for meaning and belonging in the things that fill our houses and our hearts.”
—Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife
About the Author
Lisa Tracy writes, “I’m a paradox. An Army brat by family heritage, I’m also a native of Virginia, a state full of people with deep ancestral roots in the Old Dominion soil. I grew up in a town that claims both Robert E. Lee and T.J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson as former residents and was educated at Oberlin College and Rutgers University. I’m the mother of a 25-year-old son who is Bard College-educated and lives and works in New York City. I’ve worked as a journalist for most of my life; while I was at the Philadelphia Inquirer over a span of three decades (including a stint as the Home & Design editor), I lived in New Jersey. I was completely surprised to realize—fairly late in the game, when I started researching the furniture—that I had roots there too, and in Philadelphia as well.
“After many generations of service to our country on both land and sea, our immediate family has come down to six of us, five of whom are now living in this small, elegant Southern town that was really not our home, but has become so. As Americans, we are such a transient culture. My family, Army people for generations, really epitomize that. It might be that someone in any given family knows or has some idea of where the family came from, but if they do—in my experience—no one bothers to talk about it, or the older folks assume the younger ones won’t be interested, or the younger ones don’t ask, and the thread is lost. For me, Objects of Our Affection has been an experience in coming to terms with all of that, and from the numbers of people I’ve talked to all over the country about it, I’m hoping it may help others come to terms with their history and their heritage as well.
“I’m now living in a house my grandparents built during World War II, when my grandfather was serving as superintendent of Virginia Military Institute. Here in this house, my dialogue with the furniture continues, as various old pieces assert themselves and I try to figure out how to downsize and yes, get rid of more stuff.”